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Saving Our Creek

Nov 1, 2023

Protecting the Gills Creek Watershed through Conservation, Advocacy, Restoration, and Education.


The elementary students at Cutler Jewish Day School enjoy more time outdoors than the typical 15 minute recess. Nature-based learning is prioritized, and exploring the environment, climbing trees, and playing in the stream in the woods on campus are an integral part of their education. But concerns over water quality have kept the children out of the stream this year.

We were introduced to a teacher at the school who requested that we come out and test the stream water. So we grabbed our monitoring kit and led Ms. Val's class through the Adopt-a-Stream testing process.

Results showed that the dissolved oxygen in the water was abysmally low (bad for aquatic critters) and bacteria levels were alarmingly high (bad for tiny humans).

The kids' teacher didn't take the news that they have to stay out of the creek sitting down. Instead, she said,

"What can we do to make it better?"

With her refusal to accept keeping her students out of the creek as the end of the story, Ms. Val echoed the basic principle behind the existence of GCWA. How can we make it better? Let's start with the school's campus and make sure they've taken all the steps recommended in our Watershed Champion program, designed specifically to help individuals improve water quality in the watershed around them.

Then, with the help of the other teachers and the students, we'll take our message to the neighborhoods surrounding the school, and maybe, with enough of us working in tandem to "make it better," we'll actually improve the water quality in the tiny, unnamed creek that flows beside the school. Stay tuned as this community project unfolds!

  • This stream becomes a "water feature" on the Forest Lake Golf Course and then pours into Forest Lake.

  • Thank you to Leonora Dillon (City of Columbia Water) for contributing the photo.

  • Thank you to Chanda Cooper (Richland Soil and Water Conservation Division) for introducing us to Ms. Val!

  • Shout out to GCWA volunteers Courtney Rucker and Caroline Eastman!

  • Finally, thank you to Val Hoyt-Parrish and her class for welcoming us to their school and working to improve the watershed!

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